Computed-tomography (CT) scan is a special type of X-ray that provides a more detailed view of organs, blood vessels, bones and soft tissue than regular X-rays. CT scans take multiple images from different angles. The result is a series of images that look like “slices,” which can then be reconstructed on a computer to provide a three-dimensional view of the area that was scanned. These views help your doctor to better diagnose problems such as cancer, heart disease, back problems, blood clots and other disorders.
MHP’s CT scanner was upgraded in March 2014 with a new system that has many built-in features to enhance our patient’s experience. The system uses the lowest possible radiation dose to provide the most detailed scans. In addition, the system is much faster, allowing us to capture images from a larger area in a shorter amount of time; usually only requiring a seven second breath hold. Finally, in cases where contrast is needed, our new system relies on weight-based dosing. All of these enhancements allow us to further personalize your healthcare experience while still providing top-notch scans to our providers.
Preparing for a CT
Your healthcare provider will give you a list of instructions to follow for your particular exam type. If you are having a scan of the abdominal or pelvic area, you might be asked to drink a contrast beverage the night before and 1 to 2 hours prior to the exam. The oral contrast has a vanilla flavor, and most patients do not find it unpleasant.
You may have to arrive before your scan to have blood drawn to check the functioning of your kidneys. Well functioning kidneys are necessary to help filter and excrete the IV contrast that may be used in your exam.
Depending on the type of scan you are having, you may be asked to change into a gown. In some cases, you may be able to wear your regular clothing, so we encourage you to wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes that have no metal.
A technologist will position you on the examination table. Once in position, you will be moved through a doughnut shaped ring, called a gantry, which is the scanner. The technologist will have you in full view at all times and be in constant communication via a two-way microphone. Patients can expect the entire CT process to take from 30 to 90 minutes.
During your exam, you may be given contrast through an IV to highlight blood vessels. When the IV is administered, you may feel warm, have facial flushing or have a metallic taste in your mouth as it is being injected. These sensations generally last less than a minute and are normal.
Occasionally, patients may experience an allergic reaction to the contrast. Let the technologist know in advance if you have any known allergies to iodine, or if you experience any itching, rash, hives or difficulties with breathing or swallowing during the scan. Also inform the technologist if you have kidney problems, any diabetes medications you are taking, and if you are pregnant or think you may be before any contrast is administered.
After the Scan
You can return to your normal activities and routine diet right away. Any contrast you were given will pass naturally through your body. If you drank oral contrast, you may notice a milky color to your bowel movements, which is a normal occurrence. You should also drink more fluids after the scan to help your body “flush” the IV contrast out.
Images are made available for Radiologist and provider review immediately following the exam in our PACS system. Results of routine exams are provided to the ordering provider by the end of the next business day. Emergent exams typically have results available within 30 minutes of the images being available. All images can be burned to CD upon patient request for easy transport to outside providers.